Councilor Urges More Diversity on Boards
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city administration should look further afield to find more diverse nominations for boards, according to one city councilor.
"Over the last 20 years ... appointments tend to be politically connected," said Councilor Lisa Blackmer at Tuesday's City Council meeting. "What about other skill sets out there? People ask me, 'how do I get involved?'"
The discussion was prompted by Mayor Richard Alcombright's nominations of Joanne DeRose, a member of the City Democratic Committee, and Brian Miksic, head of Develop North Adams and a supporter of Alcombright's mayoral bid, to the Planning Board.
Blackmer said she was sure DeRose would do a good job but that there had been talk of appointing possibly a retired architect, someone who wouldn't have any conflicts, or a citizen with a similar background. She pointed to one individual from New York City who has a depth of experience but whose short time in the city was seen as a negative.
"Typically speaking, if you look through all my board appointments, they all come with people who are qualified and will represent that board in a positive way," said the mayor, who estimated he'd submitted 30 or 40 names over the past year of people he'd worked with on other boards or through his experience with the community.
He'd used the recent semester-opening breakfast at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts to solicit interest in serving the city, he added, and encouraged interested citizens to contact him. "We haven't been shy about that, we've kept a list of names of people who call."
Councilor Michael Boland said they had used the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition newsletter to drum up candidates for the new Human Services Committee.
"Pretty much, I see a name in front of us, they seem to be involved in the communty," said Councilor Keith Bona. "We're a small community so it's not unusual for people to be involved in other organizations."
Miksic's involvement with DNA, a local cultural and business association, prompted council President Ronald Boucher to get an opinion from the city solicitor, who suggested Miksic abstain from decision affecting the downtown. Alcombright said he had also suggested Miksic contact the state Ethics Commission. Bona pointed out that Paul Hopkins, vice chairman of the Planning Board and chairman of the Redevelopment Authority, sits on the DNA board.
Council President Ronald Boucher said it may be matter of people not knowing how to get involved.
"I tell them to call the mayor ... but people, I guess they don't know the process of how to get their skills and their interest in the city to be used without being actively involved publicly," said Blackmer.
In other business:
• The city solicitor sent a letter stating that he would have an opinion on a request to switch a parcel owned by Curran Highway Development LLC from industrial zone to commercial at the Feb. 22 meeting.
• The Traffic Commission sent a communique on several areas of concern submitted by former Councilor Gailanne Cariddi. The police put a radar monitor on North Street for a number of weeks to reduce speeding and an issue on Patterson Road had been addressed by the mayor's office. As to oversized traffic using West Main Street to access Route 2, the mayor said there were signs in place now to prohibit such traffic but they could be moved to make them more visible before vehicles enter the roadway.
The mayor also took the time to expand upon complaints of the shortened time for crossing intersections. After discussion with the Traffic Commission, Public Safety Commissioner E. John Morocco said he would look into adding 5 seconds to crossing time.
Alcombright said the amount of time allowed to cross intersections in the downtown ranges from 28 to 45 seconds depending on location and length. That includes the time when the "Walk" light starts flashing and through the "No Walk," which offers another 10 to 12 seconds to complete the crossing. There were "problematic ones" near Cumberland Farms and the high rise on Ashland Street, possibly because of the number of elderly in that neighborhood, he said.
The mayor also noted that the grates have been removed from the new lights after discussions with the state. There have been complaints that the protective grates made it difficult to see the lights. He said he would look into a comment by Blackmer about the new light's lack of a lefthand arrow from Monument Square onto Ashland Street.
• An application for Edward Tripodes to drive a taxi for Candy Tripodes was filed after the applicant failed to appear for the second consecutive meeting. An application by William Gaudreau to drive a taxi for Lori Smith was approved.
• An ordinance relating to hawkers and peddlers was continued. General Government Chairman Keith Bona said he expected it would take a couple more meetings to formulate language.
Lights, Cameras, Action
|The new, massive mast-arm traffic lighting has been going up around the downtown area for the past couple weeks. When the new system comes online, the very visible cameras will be able to detect traffic waiting to enter the intersections and change the lights accordingly. A small bubble light at the intersection of Main Street and American Legion Drive will go on when fire vehicles turn onto Main.
The lights, part of the $3.2 million streetscape project, are designed to smooth the flow of traffic and increase safety. The cameras aren't recording anything but could be hooked into a recording system at the Department of Public Safety at a later time.